A classic in which the monsters are the good guys and the humans the bad guys. Not to be missed by monster movie fans. Director David Cronenberg is an excellent soft-spoken serial killer. Some of the Midian images are unforgettable.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
"...and Midian is where the monsters live."
dieselbreeze | Seattle, WA United States | 03/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Clive Barker's Nightbreed may seem like a story about evil monsters vs. humanity, it is not. This is really a simple story about a man who realizes that he is a little different from most people, so he tries to find a place where he can be accepted. The people he joins are so different from the rest of society that they must remain hidden or face persecution at the hands of the church, the police and the rest of humanity in general.
Usually, the monsters and freaks embody the evil in a film, but Barker likes to make his hideous creatures into sympathetic characters the reader or viewer can identify with. He accomplishes this in Nightbreed by making the humans into the most irrationally frightened, self-righteous, gun-toting rednecks the world has to offer. Despite the amazing physical differences and strange tastes of some of the monsters we are totally on their side.
Craig Sheffer plays Boone, a young man who dreams of a place called Midian along with it's strange inhabitants. He feels drawn to that place by the promise of forgiveness and complete acceptance, but he makes the mistake of telling his shrink, Decker (David Cronenburg). Decker convinces Boone that he is not well. You see, Decker knows about Midian too. His goal is the complete distruction of Midian and all it's inhabitants. His hatred is intense and apparently irrational because no reason is ever stated in this film, other than that they are different than he.
Decker sets Boone up as a patsy for several grisly murders he himself has committed, and Boone is shot down by police just outside the gates of Midian, but not before Boone had a fateful encounter with one of its denizens.
Boones girlfriend Lori learns of his death and travels to Midian, looking for answers. She is shocked by what she finds down in the labrynthine tunnels and cavernous chambers. She sees monsters; they are hideous, unnatural creatures with unnatural abilities. A woman, Rachel, tries to make her understand that they are the last of their kind to escape persecution through the centuries.
Unfortunately Decker has followed her there to kill her and lure Boone, who is dead but also lives. Lori takes him with her, but he is no longer the man he was.
Decker whips the local constabulary and townspeople into a frenzy over the goings on at Midian, and there is a great battle. When it is over, Boone is commanded to find a new home for his people.
The creatures of Midian are fascinating! The various shapes and faces are endlessly interesting. Peloquin has red skin and seems to have hair also made of flesh. Shuna Sassi has a back and head covered with quills. There is much to see in Midian!
This film is a wonderful way to look at hate, be it based on race, religion, sexual orientation or whatever. The hate for Midian's people is based on an irrational fear, for Midian laws do not allow them come in contact with humanity. It is also borne of envy-these strange looking people can change their shapes, or fly. They can also live forever. Who wouldn't want that?
All the actors are enjoyable to watch, but David Cronenberg stands out. He is very chilling as the psychopath Decker, especially in his Button-Head mask. He sure scared me!
Danny Elfman wrote some music for this film. Elfman evokes a mysterious and tribal atmosphere for Midian like no one else could. If you listen close, you can even hear Oingo Boingo's song 'Skin' done up in country style.
I love this movie. Clive Barker adapted his own novel, and the result is a beautiful and creepy film about being different and surviving hatred. Humans can be so stupid sometimes."
Tom Kessler | Baltimore, MD. | 08/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Nightbreed" is a clear case of a studio barreling into a creative contract with a hot, young talent and bankrolling auteuristic genre piece before they had any idea what they'd bought into. Co-produced by Morgan Creek and 20th Century Fox, "Nightbreed" was touted by auteur, Clive Barker as "the Star Wars" of horror which was just what Fox wanted to hear (especially with their sci-fi horror franchises, "Alien" and "Predator" in creative limbo). I'm guessing that their conservative expectations anticipated the ultimate, effects-filled Us vs. Them tale, with just enough of a faith in "general goodness" to morally justify the film's existance. Things fell apart when they sussed that Barker's overbudget production (it ballooned from $8 million to $11 million) was a gleefully paganistic and psychosexual affair. The story involves young heart throb, Aaron Boone (played by Craig Sheffer of "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "A River Runs Through It") who suffers from maddening dreams of frolicing in a night-time field with a platoon of chuckling, inhuman creatures. An outcast himself (although how Craig Sheffer could be an outcast with that face, hair, body tone and slick leather jacket is beyond me), he dreams of escaping to this dream place where "all [his] sins will be forgiven." Equally obsessed is Sheffer's psychiatrist played by David Cronenberg (yes, THAT David Cronenberg), affecting an ominous, monotone performance, "I find you...intriguing." No prizes for guessing the psycho here. All of this set-up is merely conceptual red herring for the conservative viewer. The real draw here is the film's second and final third which thrusts Boone's girlfriend, Lori (played by Anne Bobby of "Cop Rock" fame. . .and occasional ringer for director, Barker) and her quest to find her lover who goes missing, presumed dead...but maybe not. The film's second half in particular is rife with a stunningly imaginative array of monsters (mostly human actors in some really elaborate, prosthetic make-up). As Bobby, Cronenberg and the creatures take center stage, the film seems to abandon all pretense of a conventional narrative and accelerates towards a action-oriented, comic book-style climax. Apparently, Fox executives were disgusted with Barker's early cuts of the flick with a few even maintaining that they found Barker's vision to be completely amoral (especially the way that the climax invites the audience to root for the monsters to massacre a particularly buffoonish mob of Canadian rednecks) and forced as many cuts as they could to keep the flick watchable, yet to pare away as much of Barker's sensibility as possible. No dice. The flick IS overly short and the editing often shows haphazard hastiness, but Barker's vision and sensibility permeats every frame. Even truncated and conceptually neutered. Among the missing plot points are allusions to the hero's impotence, the heroine's climactic suicide (even though we see her holding the machete with which she was meant to do it) and a priest's renunciation of his faith (Rev. Ashberry is wearing a collar up until Sheffer's line, "We don't like priests here." In every shot afterwards, he isn't.). Perhaps the most amusing of the editing faux-pas involves cisfigured bohemoths known as The Berserkers. Every sequence with them is cut so poorly that it feels like you're watching a far shoddier production than you are. It feels almost as if the camera cuts away from The Berserkers as if afraid for the viewer to get a good look at their make-up. The reason for this has less to do with the craftsmanship on the suits as it does with the beasts' endowments. Apparently, The Berserkers were fitted with huge, sledgehammer cocks and the editors were left with the thankless task of ommitting every instance where these members were visible. The result is the absolute mess of editing that is the "Charge of the Berserkers" sequence. So, what does this all add up to really? Well, in spite of all the factors stacked against it, "Nightbreed" remains (for me, anyway) an absolutely fun and compelling flick. It was always meant to be a fun, naughty b-flick, but the forced edits make the whole experience seem a lot more hollow than it intended. Be that as it may, this film is far more entertaining and imaginative than most "straight" films. The fact that the narrative seems to barrel along, madly accelerating from quiet shocker to apocalyptic epic is actually part of its charm. In a lot of ways, it resembles David Lynch's "DUNE" in the way that it propels itself from ponderously quiet and visually sumptuous to epic action. The perk here is that "Nightbreed" doesn't waste your time with loose-thread exposition which goes nowhere (all instances of this have been more thoroughly ommitted than in "DUNE"), it just gets down to it and dares you not to downshift your brain and go with it. Sure, the action is sometimes clumsy and the actors are occasionally less assured, but I'd maintain that the fun to flaw ratio is a lot more satisfying in this 10-year-old "bomb" than in most "blockbusters" that we've been treated to this summer. Give me the breed over Lara Croft or that overly-pixelated mummy any time!"
Another fake widescreen presentation of a great movie...
Vincent Maloy | Deutschland | 06/02/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Nightbreed remains a fantastic movie, even if the studio cut Clive Barker's epic tale of the hidden society of monsters down. But more than frustrating is the fact that DVD market is confronted with yet another newly mastered widescreen presentation in which the black bars at the bottom and at tht top are just glued on the regular full frame version of the movie.Sure, picture and sound have been reworked to look and sound good. But this faked widescreen format restores not a bit of the original movie. It even steals parts of the picture and betrayes the fan of great motion pictures in favour of giving those who have been seduced to by letterbox formated TV sets something to strech across their screen.The movie itself would get 5 stars from me, even if the extras on this DVD - some textual info and a trailer - are rather few. But since the clever DVD marketing geniuses have provided another jigsaw version of a movie, I have to settle to one star. Not only have they ruined the movie experience. They've also destroyed the chance that someone else might ever release a real widescreen or a real full screen DVD of that impressive movie. My tip is, by the video. You get more picture for less money."
Should this remain ... "BELOW" ?
M. C. Jones | UK | 08/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having worked on this movie as a member of the Image Animation make-up FX crew back in the late 80's I recently revisited this little fella to see if it was as I remember it. It seems you either love it or loath it and have read some conflicting opinions in these reviews ... it's true there was a HUGE amount cut from this movie, most notably and very sadly pretty much all of the stop motion animation sequences which had they been kept it would've stepped this up from it's 'men in masks' reputation - also a lot of the main characters originally slated for the chop at the end were kept back for a potential sequel that never came ... the inclusion of the 'wall' painted by the superb artist Raplh McQuarrie gave the movie some resonance but at the end of the day too many chef's spoiled the broth and good ideas were crudely cut and poorly edited to compact this into a shorter running time. That said this movie has a place in my heart, in an age that was just coming to terms with CG a la Jim Camerons "The Abyss", "Nightbreed" didn't pull any punches and the campy cult status it seems to have earnt by a loving following of hardcore fans is pleasing. For the record, there were a lot of monsters and scenes shot that were never seen and fans would feast on the deleted scenes from what was removed or changed - Eigerman and Ashberry's demise, stop mo' creatures such as giant flying insects, a troll with a mouth for a groin tearing a car apart, a deformed tiger woman riding a huge dinosaur beast through the tunnels of midian and a scorpian woman were all made and never used ... I had heard a sequel was penned that would've had a re-constructed Baphomet WWF'ing it out with the 'old gods' in central park which if done now would be spectacular but times and tastes change, I can only hope that Clive will re-visit this baby at some point and do it justice in the future - my advice, go buy and enjoy ... if only to be taken away for a couple of hours to Midian - the place where the monsters go ..."
An inconsistent film with redeeming qualities...
Mr Ghostface | United Kingdom | 07/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Nightbreed", based on the book "Cabal" by Clive Barker.Directing from a screenplay of his own novel, Barker's film is unfortunately inconsistent in both style and tone, and the plot meanders somewhat inconsequentially. Also lacking are the more homoerotic undertones of the novel, although a certain amount remains between Craig Scheffer's Boone and the decidedly sexually-appealing monster Peloquin (played by actor/director Oliver Parker).Boone is plagued by memories of a place he has never seen, with his visions twisted by psychotic psychologist Decker, played by David Cronenberg. Boone seeks out this place and eventually finds himself in Midian, which we discover is 'where the monsters' go. What is interesting about Barker's film is the perspective taken here; the film attempts to lay our sympathy with the creatures who are persecuted and slaughtered by the redneck police force, and does so with some success. Despite its major flaws, Nightbreed does succeed in eliciting a strong degree of emotion for the monsters, no doubt inspired by Barker's own homosexuality; while the direction is messy and the production design glaringly inconsistent throughout, the film does at least compensate for these flaws in its humanity."